Classical music

Embarrassing – but electrifying: Bernstein 100 reviewed

18 November 2017 9:00 am

‘There is something enviable about the utter lack of inhibition with which Leonard Bernstein carries on,’ wrote the critic of…

London needs a new concert hall – but this is not it

28 October 2017 9:00 am

Even in a Trump world where reality is what you say it is, the London Symphony Orchestra’s announcement of a…

What’s the appeal of slow radio?

21 October 2017 9:00 am

Slow radio is popping up everywhere at the moment — programmes that have no outward form but just meander through…

Was Richard Strauss the greatest film composer that never was?

21 October 2017 9:00 am

An opera without singers, a Strauss orchestra of just 16, and an early music ensemble playing Mahler: welcome to the…

I’d rather miss a season of Proms than the London Piano Festival

14 October 2017 9:00 am

If two concert pianists are performing a work written for two grand pianos, there are two ways you can position…

Painted more shades of grey than a Farrow & Ball catalogue: The Judas Passion reviewed

7 October 2017 9:00 am

‘Can the ultimate betrayal ever be forgiven?’ screams the publicity for The Judas Passion, transforming a Biblical drama into a…

Simon Rattle’s Rite of Spring was the best I’ve ever heard

30 September 2017 9:00 am

I was going to start with a little moan. About the shouty marketing, the digital diarrhoea, the sycophantic drivel, which,…

Simon Rattle’s job title has less clout than a viscountcy

23 September 2017 9:00 am

Much fuss has been made of the title given to Sir Simon Rattle on arrival at the London Symphony Orchestra.…

Maria Callas as Anna Bolena

The unrepeated and unrepeatable brilliance of Maria Callas

16 September 2017 9:00 am

Michael Tanner on why the impact of Callas is unrepeated and unrepeatable

Bewilderingly dull: the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at the Proms reviewed

16 September 2017 9:00 am

‘We’re going to live for ever!’ declares Robert Powell as Gustav Mahler at the end of Ken Russell’s 1974 biopic.…

Bruckner’s Ninth is one of the greatest musical works – and also the most baffling

9 September 2017 9:00 am

The two Proms concerts given on consecutive evenings by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra were well planned: a short opening work,…

‘I’m going to fine anyone who refers to an opus number on air’: how we made Classic FM

2 September 2017 9:00 am

Three weeks before Classic FM launched, I was on the radio in Hong Kong, introducing hits by Rick Astley and…

Power of two: Martha Argerich and Daniel Barenboim play a duet at this year’s Lucerne Festival

Chailly’s Mendelssohn alone was worth going to Lucerne for

26 August 2017 9:00 am

This year’s Lucerne Festival is given its identity by having as its theme ‘Identity’. Since the word doesn’t mean anything,…

Time to ditch authenticity for early music Proms

12 August 2017 9:00 am

They say the first step towards recovery is admitting that you have a problem. So I’m staging an intervention and…

The BBC Proms broadcast a piece of gloriously subversive new music – without realising it

5 August 2017 9:00 am

Sir James MacMillan’s European Requiem, performed at the Proms on Sunday, isn’t about Brexit. The composer had to make this…

Power, purity and pinpoint accuracy in this new recording of Beethoven’s greatest work 

29 July 2017 9:00 am

When you first encounter it, Beethoven’s Missa solemnis can sound like the Ninth Symphony with more singing but no tunes.…

Haydn would surely have approved of Simon Rattle’s repackaging of the symphonies

22 July 2017 9:00 am

‘Rarely, rarely, comest thou, Spirit of Delight!’ wrote Elgar, quoting Shelley, at the top of his Second Symphony. He should…

How Scott Walker created music out of a dead pig

22 July 2017 9:00 am

Summer nights, hot and humid, mean just one thing — it’s Proms season again. Sore feet, sweaty armpits, queuing outside…

Mahler said his time would come – the question now, for me, is when it will go

8 July 2017 9:00 am

When I began listening to music seriously, in about 1950, I had read about Mahler but wasn’t able to hear…

Meet the composer who licked Beethoven’s carpet

24 June 2017 9:00 am

Gerald Barry once licked Beethoven’s carpet. At least, that’s what he told me, and I’m as sure as any interviewer…

Evgeny Kissin in 1993

‘The Western establishment is betraying its values’: Evgeny Kissin interview

17 June 2017 9:00 am

The great, enigmatic pianist has always divided critics. He talks to Damian Thompson about his heretical opinions on Horowitz, Israel and Brexit

I had to watch through my fingers: Aurora Orchestra play Brahms One from memory

10 June 2017 9:00 am

Playing in an orchestra that disintegrates mid-concert is not an experience you forget. One moment everything’s motoring along nicely. Suddenly…

Harpsichordists at war

27 May 2017 9:00 am

Harpsichordists are supposed to make love, not war: Sir Thomas Beecham famously compared the sound they make to ‘two skeletons…

Telemann was much more than a prolific purveyor of musical muesli

27 May 2017 9:00 am

The concert began with a flourish and a honk. Well, of course it did. Telemann wrote his last Ouverture-Suite in…

How the KGB infiltrated classical music

13 May 2017 9:00 am

Spare a thought for Emil Gilels, still revered today by Russians as the foremost pianist of the Soviet era. The…